By Bill Koenig
The typical movie screenplay goes through multiple drafts before a final shooting script emerges. The same is true of James Bond screenplays. Throughout the past half-century, concepts, sequences, characters get thrashed out, elaborated or dropped.
When each new Bond screen adventure comes out, most fans get caught up in the final movie. Some collectors, though, pursue copies of scripts, including drafts that differ from the films themselves. Producer Albert R. Broccoli wanted 1979’s Moonraker to be spectacular. But while he had a big budget for the time (United Artists initially set the budget at $20 million, and it expanded to more than $30 million), an early draft was so sprawling, there probably was no way Broccoli was prepared to film it.
In other instances, such as 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, earlier drafts had more material from their Ian Fleming source material than cinema audiences would see when the film version debuted. In other words, screenwriters such as Tom Mankiewicz really did read the books, even if critics of their work thought otherwise.
What follows is a look at a few draft screenplays. Gary J. Firuta, a Bond collector, shared some of the draft screenplays he gathered over the years, which was a big help in preparing this story.
The early, undated draft, weighs in at 153 pages. The rule of thumb in the film industries is that each page of a script will be roughly a minute of screen time. Thus, this version would have been more than two-and-a-half hours had it been filmed.
Christopher Wood’s name isn’t on the title page, but we’ll assume he’s responsible. Tom Mankiewicz had been involved in the treatment, or outline, stage but was, by all accounts, not involved in actual script drafts. Much of the script has sequences that match the completed film. But this version of Moonraker is bigger, much bigger and, in the end, too big for 007.
The Venice sequence of this script is much more elaborate that the final film. When the minions of villain Hugo Drax pursue 007, Bond uses a hand microphone under the seat of his gondola and radios “Station Twenty-Three. He says, “Stand by with J.P. One. At this point, the assassin disguised as a corpse in a casket is still alive and is firing a sub-machine gun at Bond. The agent dispatches the killer with a shot from his Walther PPK but is still being pursued by other of Drax’s men.
Bond takes his gondola into a boathouse. One of Drax’s men lobs what looks like a hand-grenade into it which is followed by the sound of a muffled explosion. At once, clouds of black smoke come pouring from the boathouse. Inside, Bond is apparently struggling with a bulky package rather like a parachute pack.
Drax’s men are poised outside the boathouse, ready for Bond to come out. Instead, the agent soars out at speed through the smoke, propelled by the jet-pack on his back.
Wait, it gets better…
Suddenly, a helicopter is chasing after Bond. 007 is manipulating his jet-pack expertly. The helicopter is twisting and turning to catching him, rather as a large bird does to a smaller one. A shot from the helicopter pierces the jet-pack and fuel begins to leak. Bond looks about him urgently for a means of escape. Bond dives, flying under a bridge while the helicopter tries to fly over it but instead flies straight into it and blows up dramatically.
Whew! And the script is just getting started.
Later, in Brazil, Bond and CIA agent Holly Goodhead agree to work together, much as in the final film. They escape from Jaws in a cable-car sequence, again much as the finished movie, but get captured by other Drax henchmen.
The script, however, starts another sequence with Bond waking up in a yacht belonging to Drax. Bond again meets Drax. Ahh, Mr. Bond — I see you are with us at last, Drax says. Poor Doctor Goodhead has been quite anxious about you… find me enjoying your country’s one indisputable contribution to Western civilisation — the English breakfast.
A steward brings two boiled eggs to Drax. The villain picks up an egg-spoon in one hand, a knife the in other. He looks at BOND, smiling mockingly.
Tell me — do you tap or cut?
It depends who I’m up against.
(slices off the top of the egg):
And that is what I’m going to do with you, my dear Bond — and to your devoted companion. Cut.
By cut, Drax means he’s going to keel haul Bond and Holly, dragging them across a coral reef. “Your flesh will be ripped form your bones,” Drax says. “Beyond the reef there are sharks. Your blood will attract them.”
Drax has also sent Jaws to get Bond’s belongings, including a briefcase, from 007’s hotel. On the side of the briefcase is a plate with a numbered dial. “BOND adjusts the dial, moves the catches and they click open. With a quick movement, BOND moves the dial again, then opens the case wide.” Drax dumps the contents of the briefcase (including a Walther PPK, a knife and Bond’s passport) overboard and lays the briefcase down, out of Drax’s sight. Meanwhile, the script’s stage directions call for a close shot of the briefcase. Numerals on the dial are changing at “one second intervals. They now show 29.15.”
Fleming originally devised such a sequence for his Live And Let Die novel but it was dropped from the screenplay for that film. Wood brings it back for Moonraker, while also providing a tip of the hat to the booby-trapped briefcase shown in From Russia With Love. Drax departs the yacht while his goons proceed to keel haul Bond and Holly.
Have we any chance at all?
A chance — yes. Time will tell.
Once the keel hauling is underway, the script calls for a shot of Bond and Holly. 007 “fights to keep HOLLY’s head above water.” Meanwhile, back at the yacht, Jaws notices that one of the thugs is looking at Bond’s briefcase “and is handling it with interest.” Jaws grabs the briefcase while not noticing that the numerals on the locking dial now read 04.28. Bond and Holly are being dragged across the coral, with 007 twisting “so that his body takes the worst of the impact. He winces as he is bashed against the sharp edges.”
Eventually, Jaws notices the locking dial on the briefcase. The digits change to 0.06, 0.05, 0.04. Jaws stares at the dial “with growing suspicion. He stands up, still holding the case, now holding it by the handle, preparing to thow it overboard.” The yacht “explodes violently into complete disintegration. A geyser shoots into the air, showing the sea with fragments of wood and metal.” Bond gets the unconscious Holly onto a piece of wreckage, and then “strikes out powerfully with his legs” to get to land.
Jaws? He’s nearby “sitting astride a baulk of timber,” still holding the handle of the exploded briefcase. “He looks about him with weary resignation.” Some sharks dine on the one thugs who had earlier looked at the briefcase but Jaws gets away. Bond and Holly, meantime, reach shore and 007’s back “is raw and bleeding as if he had been birched.” Bond tells Holly about the explosive in the briefcase.
How did you know when to set it for?
I didn’t. I guessed thirty minutes.
A love scene ensures but, given the scope of this movie, it doesn’t last long. We’re next taken to a “straight, flat road in the middle of a vast area of grasslands.” Bond and Holly are waiting and soon, Q and an assistant arrive in a vehicle towing a “big horse bo”x which has a sign, “Pegasus Riding Stables.” Inside are two mini-jets.
“Well, I’ve brought your mounts,” Q says. “You’d better be jolly careful with them.”
After the pair are airborne, Bond radios to Holly and “smugly” asks her, “Holly — d’you think you can handle one of these?” She maneuvers her aircraft so it’s flying upside down, parallel to Bond’s. She “waves happily to BOND,” the script says.
Shortly, the two agents are on the trail of a Drax Air Freight plane. After following it for a bit, they’re attacked by three unmarked jets sent by Drax and an aerial dogfight ensues. Bond and Holly do a series of tricky moves, which causes two of the Drax jets to fly into each other. Holly gets shot down, landing in the middle of a lake, her fate unknown (for the moment). Bond has his own troubles as the last Drax jet is on his trail.
Bond is now flying in a gorge, the Drax jet is pursuit. The gorge “narrows suddenly, so the that the tall cliffs are no more than a few feet apart — certainly less than the wing span” of Bond’s aircraft. The agent tilts his aircraft so the wings are now vertical, barely getting through the space. The Drax plane isn’t so lucky. “As the jet flies into the gap, both wings are torn off, it crashes and explodes dramatically.”
Bond’s not of out of the woods, however. His fuel is now down to zero and the engine is sputtering. He barely manages to get the mini-jet to land on a road and taxies up to a filling station. “Ordinary or super?” the station attendant asks. After that, Bond goes to MI6’s secret Brazil facility, as in the film. One minor difference: we’re told the rare orchid that’s the basis of the deadly fluid Bond found in Drax’s Venice laboratory (as in the film) was found where Holly was shut down.
Bond is outfitted with a special boat by Q (again like the finished film) and a boat chase ensues, but in this script Jaws doesn’t participate.
As in the film, Bond has to make an emergency exit from the Q boat, using a glider. In the script, however, Bond crash lands the glider in water. “For a moment, BOND and the glider are lost to view in a cloud of spray.” The glider gets sucked down a whirlpool, but Bond makes it safety. He catches the sight of a blonde beauty in a “strange, exotic costume — long split skirt, white cotton mantle swathing breast and hand,” the script says. “She stands, seen through the rainbow haze of the spray from the torrent below, looking not at BOND, but across the gorge.”
Eventually, Bond finds his way into Drax’s secret Brazilian jungle headquarters, though with more effort than in the film, and catches up to the blonde beauty, who now has two handmaidens with her. Bond flirts more in the script than the finished film. “I suppose a vodka martini would be out of the question?” he asks the blonde beauty who “smiles enchantingly” without answering. The blonde beauty and handmaidens lead Bond to a pool. On the far side of the pool, fresh clothes are laid out. Additional handmaidens appear and are setting out wine and trays of “whole roast fowls and exotic fruits.” The blonde beauty gestures at the pool and then across the pool to the waiting food.
Bond “wearily” takes off his “wet and tattered clothing and slips gratefully into the pool.” Stage directions call for a shot of the same type of rare orchid to be sinking beneath the surface of the pool. Of course, Bond’s rest will be short lived. As in the film, a giant anaconda makes an appearance. He gets out of the hazard in a different fashion in this script. He finds a drainage valve, opens it and the snake is drawn into the drain.
What follows is pretty similar to the finished film, though there are some differences in dialogue and a few additions. For example, while trying to find Drax’s radar-jamming system, they can see into a zero-gravity chamber in the center of the villain’s space station. There, two lovers evidently want to get started on creating a new master race for Drax. “The girl appears to be naked beneath a white diaphonous garment that billows erotically as she and her partner — also seemingly naked — move in a sensuous mating ballet.”
Bond quips, “Somebody’s taking Drax’s address to heart, anyway.”
After Bond and Holly wreck the radar-jamming equipment, the space station is now visible to the nations of Earth. The U.S. contacts the Soviet Union. However, instead of General Gogol, the Soviet representative taking the call is a General Kuchinsky. In any case the script concludes much the way the film did.
Besides the additional action sequences, the script also has one other change of note. In Rio, Bond is assisted by a male agent, instead of a woman operative. That agent ends up being killed by Jaws (before he switches to Bond’s side in the space station) and ends up as a second “sacrificial lamb.” In the completed film, Jaws doesn’t actually kill anybody — he tries a lot but is almost entirely a comic foil. When Jaws debuted in The Spy Who Loved Me, he provided both menace and comic relief. But you couldn’t totally laugh him off because we saw him kill somebody early in that 1977 film.
One suspects producer Broccoli felt if Jaws would convert to Bond’s side in Moonraker, it’d be better if there wasn’t that messy MI6 agent’s death to overlook. As in the finished film, the first “sacrificial lamb” in the Moonraker script is the woman pilot who helps Bond early in the film at Drax’s supposed California mansion. In the script, the character’s name is Trudi Parker. The name was changed when French actress Corinne Clery was hired for the role.
What to make of all this? Well, a film close to the 153-page script would have been a massive undertaking and presumably would have added substantially to the movie’s budget. The early script also has a “Best of Bond” feel to it, much like 2002’s Die Another Day. (Let’s take the jet-pack from Thunderball! Let’s do a new version of From Russia With Love’s briefcase!). Still, this Moonraker script does have an epic feel to it. It was so big, Broccoli & Co. carved out two sequences for later re-use (the keel hauling sequence would be used in For Your Eyes Only while a single mini-jet would be used in Octopussy’s pre-title sequence). If the script could be summarized in a word, it’d be ambitious. But even 007 couldn’t cash the checks needed to make a film based on the complete 153-page script.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
Tom Mankiewicz’ “revised first draft” of Feb. 24, 1971, for Diamonds Are Forever reads very close to the final version of the movie. But it includes some Ian Fleming touches the completed movie wouldn’t have.
The script as written doesn’t plan out the pre-credits sequence. It merely says, “PRE-TITLE SEQUENCE in which Bond kills Blofeld.” Mankiewicz would do something similar with Live And Let Die where the script promised “the greatest boat chase you ever saw,” which essentially didn’t exist until Mankiewicz wrote the 12-page sequence later.
Instead, we begin with M telling Bond about certain diamonds as they await a briefing with Sir Donald Munger. The scenes that follow in the script are very similar to the final film with relatively small changes. Examples: Bond’s comment about how the sherry served to the agent “is an unusually fine Solera. ’51, I believe” isn’t corrected by M. When we meet Wint and Kidd they’re watching a fight between a beetle and a scorpion, which the scorpion wins. Miss Moneypenney doesn’t appear in the scene where Bond takes the place of smuggler Peter Franks.
The scene where Bond meets Tiffany Case also is much the same, except Tiffany’s real hair color is platinum, closer to Fleming’s description of her as a blonde. The dialogue for the scene provides a “wink-wink” to Fleming readers. For example there’s this line for Tiffany: “That’s why you’re being paid fifty grand,” she says. “What did you think it was going to be a pair of earrings? And Franks, for God’s sake, don’t come up with any lousy ideas like hollow golf balls or wooden legs.”
In the novel, Tiffany says, “I’m always asking them to find me a man with a wooden leg” for smuggling purposes.
The story proceeds, again mostly as it would appear in the film, including Bond’s joke about where the diamonds are buried on Franks’ body. The phrasing is slightly different, “Alimentary, my dear Leiter,” instead of “ Alimentary, Doctor Leiter.”
After Bond narrowly misses being incinerated inside a casket, Mankiewicz includes a scene of 007 arriving at the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas — in a hearse he took from Slumber Inc. Bond tosses the keys to the hearse to a doorman who’s hassling him. “Name’s Franks,” Bond says. “Have whatever’s inside sent up to my room, would you? There’s a good fellow.” Bond slips the doorman a $5 tip.
The next scene, as in the movie, has Bond talking to Felix Leiter on the phone saying he needs the real diamonds. However, in this script we find out Q (!) has brought the real diamonds into the U.S.
“I thought they were coming in the diplomatic bag,” Bond says.
“An obviously annoyed” Leiter replies, “So did I.”
The script calls for a shot of a “sheepish” Q surrounded by customs officers who have opened up golf balls, clubs, etc. This, of course, is how Bond smuggled the diamonds in Fleming’s novel. The script also contains a scene that would be shot, but cut from the final movie in which a well-known celebrity is talking to Bert Saxby, helping to establish the mysterious nature of wealthy industrialist Willard Whyte. The script doesn‘t specify who the celebrity is but suggests he be “ à la Sammy Davis or Dean Martin.” Davis would actually film the scene (which is available as an extra in the DVD of the film).
This leads into the scene where Bond meets Plenty O’Toole, described as a “Hugh Hefner dream-come-true with a sweet face, towering over the other ladies like a colossus” Evidently, Plenty’s breasts are supposed to be so large even Bond is taken aback. Here‘s how the stage directions describes it: “As (Bond) bends over the table to select two of the dice offered him by the STICKMAN. He glances sideways, finds himself staring directly into PLENTY’S enormous breasts. He blinks, straightens himself.”
Hi, I’m Plenty.
I’d be foolish to deny it.
He then “looks down at table,” according to the stage directions.
Mankiewicz does include a scene showing Wint and Kidd killing Shady Tree, part of the smuggling pipeline that’s now being shut down. Kidd takes out a plastic flower while Wint demonstrates a gun where a flag drops out of the barrel with the words “BANG BANG — YOU’RE DEAD.”
C’mon fellas,The pop gun and the squiring flower routine? You got to be kidding.
Kidd uses the plastic flower to spray Tree in the face with acid, causing Tree to double over, screaming. Wint then shoots the gun a second time, except now it fires bullets..
The script is also slightly different compared with the final film in that Bond tells Tiffany who he really is, rather than Tiffany figuring it out. When he confronts Tiffany at her place in Las Vegas he says
I could always start by explaining that Peter Franks died in your lift in Amsterdam.
Precisely. And suddenly you’re living on borrowed time.
Another difference of note in the script compared with finished film is when Bond goes to find the real Willard Whyte. The billionaire is at a ranch and Bond first has to overcome a “laconic, young cowboy” guard as a prelude to eventually meeting up with Bambi and Thumper at the ranch house of the property. The cowboy guard likes to do a rope trick, where a noose lands on the horn of a saddle. Bond remarks it looks fairly easy.
“Mister, you got about as much chance ropin’ that there saddle horn as you do getting’ in this here ranch,” the guard replies. When we next see him, the guard is now sitting on saddle, gag in mouth, completely trussed in his own rope.
Eventually, we get to the oil rig where Ernst Stavro Blofeld has hidden the control center that controls a satellite that generates a laser beam that can be fired down to Earth. Mankiewicz’s script is significantly different compared with what audiences would see on film. Tiffany comes across as braver and more sly than the character Jill St. John would bring to life. She actually tricks Blofeld into putting a phony control tape into a computer bank and shows actual concern when Bond is being beaten up by Blofeld’s guards.
The script also reveals what happens to Dr. Metz, the idealistic scientist Blofeld recruited for his scheme. Metz is fleeing the oil rig in a boat. Just as Leiter is trying to radio U.S. helicopters that Metz is to be taken alive, gunfire from the aircraft ignite the fuel tanks of Metz’s boat to explode.
Meanwhile, Blofeld also got off the oil rig in his mini submarine. Just as the engines had started up, Bond had tied the long rope of a weather balloon to the back of the sub. Blofeld reaches shore where a salt mine is located. Blofeld finally sees Bond hanging at the base of the balloon, which is hanging out over the water.
“Mary Poppins, I presume, Blofeld says,” who then fires a gun. Bond twists the metal cap on the balloon bottom, air shoots out of the balloon and Bond drops into the water. Blofeld makes a run for it to the salt mine facility. Bond pursues, but tumbles down a salt pit while dodging another shot from Blofeld. The villain goes to a nearby steam shovel and tries to use it to kill 007. The shovel strikes inches from Bond but the agent climbs on the top of the shovel. Blofeld decides to make a run for it. But Bond gets to the cab of the steam shovel and uses the jaws of the shovel to grab Blofeld, lifting him into the air and drops him into a granulating machine. As Leiter and Whyte arrive, Bond slams down a lever of the granulator. At the spout of the granulator, “finely ground salt gushes forth in a stream — some of of it suddenly rather oddly colored. It creates a good-size mound of its own.”
“Where’s that bastard Blofeld?” Whyte asks after Bond has switched off the machine.
“Bastard?” Bond replies. “He’s the salt of the earth.”
We have one more major sequence to go, the cruise ship that Bond and Tiffany have boarded. They’re in their stateroom (as opposed to the ship’s deck in the final film) when Wint and Kidd show up, disguised as waiters. But instead of trying to kill Bond and Tiffany there, the phone rings, Kidd answers and tells Bond he’s wanted in the radio room to take a call from Willard Whyte. Bond exits, leaving Tiffany alone with the duo.
When Bond gets to the radio room, there is no call from Whyte. Back at the stateroom, Tiffany is tied down to the bed and gagged. Hanging above her is a pot of boiling oil attached by a rope to the door handle of the stateroom. When Bond comes back in, Tiffany is a goner. Bond, though, has other ideas. He has tied a life preserver with a long rope to the rail of the ship and lowers himself over the side. He reaches the porthole of the cabin and sees Tiffany, with Wint and Kidd waiting.
Bond pushes off the side of the ship with his feet. When he has gained enough momentum, he crashes through the porthole, feet first. In the melee that follows, Bond dispatches the assassins. The scene evokes a sequence in Fleming’s novels where Wint and Kidd took Tiffany to their cabin, with Bond having to get into the cabin through the porthole.
The script ends with Bond and Tiffany end the script, as on deck as in the film, with Tiffany wondering how can retrieve the diamonds from the killer satellite.
The Mankiewicz script is more crude in places than the final film. For example, when Bond and Tiffany are in bed at the Whyte House, there’s this exchange:
James? What did Felix tell you to do?
Exactly what I’m about to do to you, darling.
Good old Felix…
Then, after killing off Wint and Kidd, Bond sees Tiffany, still tied to the bed, her legs spread apart. Remarks Bond: “A fine lot of help you turned out to be.”
That gem is on page 124. Evidently Bond totally forgot about Tiffany expressing concern for him after being beaten up on page 110. There, she is described as being “grief-stricken” upon seeing the semi-conscious 007. She elbows guards away from Bond and “leans over him protectively.” After the “fine lot” remark, had it been filmed, the audience may well have wanted Tiffany to knee Bond in the groin.
When Eon Productions rebooted the Bond franchise with 2006’s Casino Royale, the screenplay credit got a lot of attention. That’s because Paul Haggis, a writer and/or director of critically acclaimed movies (Crash and Million Dollar Baby) shared writing credit with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. So when CR got a lot of good reviews, credit seemed to go mostly to new Bond actor Daniel Craig and to Haggis.
But what did Haggis add? There are some clues in a script dated Dec. 13, 2005. The title page reads, “Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, second set of revisions by Paul Haggis.”
Since the start of the Bond series, scribes used this format for Bond’s dialogue:
My name is Bond… James Bond.
Indeed, the Casino script follows this same format before abruptly changing in the middle, with the dialogue attributed to “JAMES”, rather than “BOND.” After Bond has been tortured by Le Chiffre, he’s recovering from his injuries. The stage directions call for, “A BLUR OF IMAGES…A NURSE pumping JAMES’ leg toward his gut, noticing his flickering eyes.”
For a little over a page, both the stage direction and dialogue refer to James. It is James, rather than Bond who says, “Not him,” upon seeing Mathis, the MI6 operative who Le Chiffre said was a double agent. “Don’t trust him.” But toward the end of the scene, it’s Bond again.
Several pages, later, when Bond is ready to make love to Vesper in his room at the clinic, it’s James again. There’s this stage direction: “VESPER’S hand slides down across JAMES’ stomach. We cut to their faces before her hand finds it’s (sic) mark. Her coy smile tells us what we need to know, as does JAMES.”
When the scene shifts to the yacht Bond and Vesper are taking to Venice, he’s still James. There’s this stage direction: “JAMES climbs out of the hold carrying VESPER. Both are naked and damn if JAMES’ arms aren’t just in the wrong places, so all we get is teased.”
No. No, that’s not going to happen. James, I’m serious. This is my serious face. Do you see it? You’re good at reading people, what does this face say?
It says I know I’m saying don’t drop me in the water but don’t believe me for a second.
The stage direction describes the outcome: “VESPER screams as JAMES flings her over the side and dives in after her.”
On the next page, the dialogue is back to “BOND” again. But after another couple of pages, “JAMES” is back. He and Vesper are in their hotel in Venice. The dialogue and stage directions refer to “JAMES” (with one brief reference to “BOND props himself against the end of the bed and pulls the covers around him, studying her as she dresses.”)
007 notices Vesper has stopped wearing her necklace. “As JAMES tries to read her unreadable smile, VESPER’S cell phone rings. She finds it in her upside down purse — checks the read-out. Her face changes for just a second.”
But when they’re down in the lobby, it’s “BOND” again. When he gets a phone call from M, though, it’s “JAMES” on the receiving end. When he’s told the money won in the poker game with Le Chiffre hasn’t been deposited, we’re told this in a stage direction: “This hits JAMES like a sledgehammer, but he betrays nothing.” A page or so later, it’s back to “BOND” for the ensuing action sequence up until Vesper commits suicide, which becomes a mix of “BOND” doing this and “JAMES” doing that. For example: “BOND reaches through the cage, grabs her and yanks her to him — forcing the air from his lungs into hers.”
Vesper, however, “opens her mouth again, gulps in the muddy water and drowns herself. Then, JAMES yanks open the door, grabs her and swims for the surface.” It’s “JAMES” who tries to administer CPR after getting Vesper to the surface. After that, it’s “BOND” again for the few pages remaining.
This is hardly conclusive, but the passages — especially the stage directions — “JAMES” seem to take on a different tone that the sections involving “BOND”. In some cases, such as the “so all we get is teased” reference, the change in tone is blatant. Given this was the second set of revisions Haggis had done, it would be interesting to track down the Purvis-Wade first draft and compare it to Haggis’ first set of revisions.
It’s also noteworthy that Haggis submitted his work as “REVISIONS”. Again hardly conclusive, but it suggests Haggis was approaching this more as a script doctor than doing a full fledged rewrite. Mankiewicz’s Diamonds Are Forever script only listed his name. He had been hired to rewrite an earlier draft by Richard Maibaum. It’s as if Mankiewicz wanted anybody who read it to know who was responsible. A script doctor may polish dialogue, even revise some scenes but usually doesn’t get a credit. Without all the drafts, one can’t definitively isolate Haggis’ work from that of Purvis and Wade. Still, the second set of revisions were delivered shortly before production began, so it’s not like Haggis had a lot of time for further rewrites.
TOMORROW NEVER DIES
Bruce Feirstein did some late drafts for 1995’s GoldenEye, the film that revived the Bond franchise after a six-year hiatus. He was rewarded with a chance to write the next installment in the Eon series after the production team had earlier considered a submission by author Donald Westlake.
Feirstein’s first 150-page is archived at the Universal Exports website. It would ultimately be viewed as needing a lot of work and various screenwriters would get a shot at it. Only Feirstein would end up with a screen credit, but the final film is vastly different than the draft he delivered in late 1996.
Reading the original draft, you get the impression that Feirstein had watched a lot of 007 movies. The stage directions in one action scene says an entrance door explodes in a thunderball of water. In some cases, Feirstein maybe watched 007 films a little too closely.
A meeting chaired by villain Elliott Harmsway, who would be renamed Carver in the final film, comes across as a little too close to Blofeld’s meeting with SPECTRE’s leadership in Thunderball. One of Harmsway’s associates has embezzled from the villain and naturally, meets a premature end. We’re also told in the sequence that Saddam Hussein was on Harmsway’s payroll.
The “MacGuffin” of the draft is also familiar territory. It’s the one-third of the U.K. gold reserves that had been stored in Hong Kong but is being moved back to London with the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. The script is not even Goldfinger the movie, it’s like going back to Goldfinger (the novel) where that iconic villain actually wanted to steal all the gold in Fort Knox. Harmsway also intends to cause a nuclear meltdown in Hong Kong because he’s angry at the impending Hong Kong giveback. (Shades of Raymond Benson’s Zero Minus Ten!)
Paris, the villain’s wife who formerly had a relationship with 007, is present; she’s even contacts MI6 to alert the agency about Harmsway’s plans. As in the finished product, Paris also meets an unpleasant end but it occurs early in the story. There is no Wai Lin, the woman Chinese intelligence agent who’d be the lead female character of the finished film. Instead, the female lead character is named Sidney Winch, a former New York lawyer who runs a salvage ship. She also calls Harmsway “Uncle Elliott,” because the villain knew her father.
Feirstein’s draft also contains some bits that didn’t make Tomorrow Never Dies but would get included in The World Is Not Enough, where Feirstein rewrote Neal Purvis and Robert Wade‘s earlier drafts. For example, in the Bond 18 draft Feirstein submitted, there’s a fight at a bar where Bond plunges an icepick through a thug’s necktie, then kicks the chap’s bar stool out from under him.
Also, there’s a line for Judi Dench’s M that, “Contrary to what you may believe, 007, the world is not filled with mad-men who can hollow out volcanoes, stock them with big-breasted women, and threaten the world with nuclear annihilation.” That reference to You Only Live Twice would get filmed for The World Is Not Enough, but be cut from the final version of that movie. In the end, the draft reads more like Bond fan’s dream, rather than a professionally prepared script.
© 2011 William Koenig